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J Insect Sci. 2012;12:122. doi: 10.1673/031.012.12201.

Landscape analysis of drone congregation areas of the honey bee, Apis mellifera.

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Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, JGD 202 PO Box. San Juan, PR 00931.


Male honey bees fly and gather at Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs), where drones and queens mate in flight. DCAs occur in places with presumably characteristic features. Using previously described landscape characteristics and observations on flight direction of drones in nearby apiaries, 36 candidate locations were chosen across the main island of Puerto Rico. At these locations, the presence or absence of DCAs was tested by lifting a helium balloon equipped with queen-sex-pheromone-impregnated bait, and visually determining the presence of high numbers of drones. Because of the wide distribution of honey bees in Puerto Rico, it was expected that most of the potential DCAs would be used as such by drones and queens from nearby colonies. Eight DCAs were found in the 36 candidate locations. Locations with and without DCAs were compared in a landscape analysis including characteristics that were described to be associated with DCAs and others. Aspect (direction of slope) and density of trails were found to be significantly associated with the presence of DCAs.

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